Cycling in the city is almost a combat sport. In the field, it’s no better. Cyclists suffer from the tension that is felt on the roads, all over France, and that generates several facts. Like the purely gratuitous assault on an Upper Vienne family in a car, by another motorcyclist, last May. Or more recently that of a cyclist in Charente-Maritime pushed aside by a truck and hit by the driver and his son.
Axel and his friend Arnaud can testify to the growing danger of cycling, even on the roads of Limousin. Ten days ago, they were driving on the departmental road between Oradour and Saint-Junien. The boys get up early. “We go to train at 6 in the morning, before work. »
car in front
In the middle of a straight line, they see a car running towards them, driving down their lane as another vehicle advances. “To dodge him, my friend went to his right and I went to his left. He hit the right back of my bike with his right headlight. »
The two cyclists leave with a great fright. Axel’s bike is “cut in half.” Your confidence in wheeled traffic is not in the best shape. “I cycle 9 hours a week, I can tell you that the danger is daily. “People tend to hug us, pass 30 centimeters and give us the middle finger. »
Radar behind the bike
And yet Axel believes he is doing his best to fit in with the traffic without disturbing anyone. “I am respectful of others, we always drive in a single row, I gesture to motorcyclists when I see that they can move forward. »
Nor does it skimp on safety features, such as a vehicle detector on the back of the bike that emits visual and audible alerts or high-visibility clothing.
In the specific case of this accident, it is the driver’s carelessness that would be called into question. But very often, the danger is voluntary.
“People tend to hug us. They pass 30 inches from us, they give the finger. »
Anthony, who drives from time to time with Axel and Arnaud, confirms that the danger is very present. Those he calls “crazy” blow the horns, do not respect the safety distances, double the force. There are also some that stick to the rear wheel and are dangerous when braking ”.
Certainly, Anthony also encounters “normal”, even “too quiet” or “annoying, those who wait too long, even when they greet them to pass.”
These last two categories are a minor evil. Anthony still remembers the day a motorcyclist stopped “20 inches from my wheel. I signaled to him that it was dangerous. ” The motorist stopped again a little further, evidently with the intention of fighting, but Anthony, “let him not look for trouble,” wisely rejected this idiotic confrontation.
Mobile speed reduction
Of the abundant testimonies of this kind, only one question remains: do we put ourselves in the shoes of a cyclist hunter when we get behind the wheel? “Motorists don’t like us,” says Sandrine, who goes with the Cyclo palaisien club.
In the eyes of some, the cyclist is nothing more than a mobile speed reducer, an impediment to quiet driving, like lying gendarmes, speed cameras, 80 km / h and children who want to stop peeing. every hour. With this difference that, unlike this immaterial entity that is the state, its anger can be made immediately felt to the cyclist. “We are vulnerable, they know it and they feel all-powerful, protected by their body,” says Sandrine.
An octogenarian cyclist dies in an accident in Eymoutiers this Sunday 3 July
Axel believes the situation has worsened since 2020 and after the confinement. “It’s not just a problem between cyclists and motorcyclists. The social climate is disturbing and we also feel a lot of aggression among motorcyclists. »
The young man believes that road tensions between users, stronger in the city, are now being felt beyond. “Within a radius of 20 km around Limoges, traffic is hell. In fact, only in areas such as the Ambazac mountains or the Millevaches plateau is it quieter. In and around Limoges, the tolerance threshold is very low. People are used to immediacy, never arriving late. As soon as you make someone slow down for a minute, they insult you. »
To this, many motorcyclists will reply that cyclists ride at random, several on the side, without worrying about other users. But endangering everyone to denounce the behavior of a minority remains especially stupid. “It’s a game of roosters in which everyone must lose: we our life, our health, they their serenity, have on their conscience the death of a cyclist and the destruction of a family,” warns Sandrina.
“In any case,” says Axel, “if I ever have children, I don’t want them to ride their bikes.” »
Cycling in 10 tips. Cyclists have rights and duties. That’s what road safety says.
1. When driving in a group, you have to ride two in a row or in a row. In the event of more than two traffic on the road, the fine incurred is € 35;
2. If your group has more than ten people, split it;
3. It is forbidden to wear any device capable of emitting sound (headphones, earphones or earphones) to the ear. The use of a mobile phone is also prohibited. Violators are liable to a fine of € 135;
4. The helmet is mandatory only for children under 12, driver or passenger of a bicycle. This helmet must be fastened;
5. Do not drive after drinking too much alcohol. From 0.25 mg / l of exhaled air, it is prohibited and susceptible to a fine, and above all dangerous;
6. It is not allowed to climb the queues on the right (135 euros fine);
7. Regulatory lighting is mandatory, with special reflectors on the front and rear (fine of € 11 in case of lack of lighting);
8. Beware of speed: a cyclist may be fined for exceeding the speed limit (€ 35) but also for inappropriate speed given the circumstances (€ 135), for example if he is driving at the right speed but dangerously in corners, towards pedestrians, etc. ;
9. Each change of direction or advance must be indicated by stretching the arm. The vehicles that will overtake you will have to do so respecting a distance of 1 meter in population and 1.50 meter outside the built-up areas;
10. Mandatory equipment includes the bell, the wheel reflector and the orange pedal reflector. Retro-reflective vest is recommended.
Jean Louis Mercier